As it’s January and people like to start and stop new habits for their New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would list a few bad fitness habits that we should all stop doing.
These are things that will hinder your results, leave you frustrated, or just flat out annoy everyone around you.
1. Stop comparing yourself to your favorite Instagram Selfie Guru
Here’s some home truths that will hopefully make you feel a bit better about your current physique.
– These people are professionals. It is literally their job to go to the gym and be in shape. They don’t work long hours in stressful offices, have screaming kids waking them up, or attend dinner parties full of rich food.
– Half of the girls have had plastic surgery and a lot of the guys are on steroids. No amount of training or discipline will catch up to that.
– They’re probably not happy. People in the fitness industry are some of the most insecure people around. When you define yourself and your value solely on your body, it is very easy to feel bad when you’re a bit bloated, your muscles look flat, or that cute chick in the gym didn’t check your biceps out.
– This amazing lifestyle and perfect photo? They got dressed up and did their makeup, simply to take the photo. They can’t actually afford to be there. They took 300 photos and scuttled home to choose the best one to see the light of day on Instagram.
2. Stop doing cardio before lifting
You do not ‘burn fat and then tone up’. That is not a thing. You burn fat by manipulating your metabolism. The best way to do this? Lift weights.
Doing cardio is just wasting energy (physical and mental) that will detract from your proper workout. Do cardio after lifting, or separately.
3. Stop eating dry chicken and soggy broccoli
You can get in shape without being this strict. In fact, you can get in shape without being utterly miserable at all!
You should eat clean, but there’s clean and then there is just stupid. Frankly, being too strict and one-dimensional isn’t healthy anyway. You’re missing out variety in your diet to get a full complement of nutrients.
Not to mention there is a 100% chance that you will binge eat on the weekend if you’re too strict during the week. You know this happens, and you know that you eat about 5000 calories in 2 hours on a Saturday night. Why not just split an extra 2000 calories over the week, enjoy your food a little, and not have the binge?
Bonus! You’re much nicer to be around when you will eat normal food. You can eat with family and friends, go to a restaurant or grab lunch on the go without flipping out. Trust me, I’ve fallen into this trap. People like you more when you have some degree of normality to your eating habits.
4. Stop leaving your weights all over the floor
If everyone put all of their weights away, they would all be 3.6% lower body fat from exerting all that additional energy.
Seriously, it’s not hard to put your weights back. I know it frustrates you when you can’t find the second of a pair of dumbbells because it’s scattered on the floor somewhere in a far flung corner of the gym. Why do that to other people?
It’s disrespectful to the gym and everyone else who uses it. You will always find that the biggest, strongest, most experienced guys are respectful of their surroundings and keep the place tidy. Maybe there’s a lesson there?
5. Stop looking for validation on social media
Here’s a novel concept. You can go to the gym…without checking in to tell everyone on social media that you are going to the gym.
I promise you, it still works. Your body doesn’t revolt at lack of social validation and refuse to grow fitter.
Really, why are you going to the gym? I’m sure you started because you want to make some internal changes to your body, your mindset and the way you perceive yourself. Don’t lose sight of that and just go through the motions to be someone who ‘works out’ but never gets anywhere because it’s just for show.
Real validation will come naturally, when you’re in great shape. People can’t help but look at you, give you respect and desire you. You don’t need to tell everyone you go to the gym. It is immediately obvious, just by looking at you.
6. Stop making excuses
You can make excuses or you can make progress. Choose one.
You must play the cards that you are dealt and make the best of the situation.
If you’re busy, someone else is busier than you and still putting work in at the gym.
If you’re naturally skinny/fat and fighting your genetics, someone else is genetically worse off than you and still putting work in at the gym.
If you’re intimidated, someone else is more intimidated and still putting work in at the gym.
Realign with why you want to workout in the first place and find a way to make it work. it might not be perfect. Results might be slow and you might have to work twice as hard as the next person for the same outcome. So what? You can do the work and achieve something, or you can stay exactly where you are right now. Which do you choose?
I don’t usually do negative-oriented posts, so I thought I would mix it up with a little rant. These are some pet-peeves of mine, some as a fitness professional and some just as an avid gym user.
I get to experience gym culture on both sides – being and interacting with people who love the gym and see it as a core part of their identity, and also helping people who don’t like the gym, are unhappy with their body and desperately want to change it. I can empathize with each.
If everyone stopped doing these 6 things, I think we would all be a lot better off.
We all wish getting in shape was easy, simple and fun at every stage.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to be the case. We’re going to look at 4 truths about fitness that people do not want to hear – but need to.
You need to know the reality of the situation, to know what you are trying to do and what it’s going to take. This empowers you. It gives you control of your situation.
Control to direct the outcomes of your life.
Hiding away from reality might feel better at the time, but it is sabotaging your long term happiness.
A little sacrifice now will create the life that you want in the future.
Here’s the 4 truths about fitness you don’t want to hear, but need to embrace to successfully achieve the body you dream of.
1. It takes time
Rome was not built in a day, as they say.
While you can make significant changes to your body quickly, if you are fully committed and dedicated, the reality is that your body reflects your long term behaviour.
You don’t get fat in 2 weeks, and nor do you get in shape in 2 weeks.
If you’ve been eating fattening foods, not exercising, not sleeping properly and highly stressed for years or even decades, you cannot expect to undo all of that in days or weeks.
It will take at least months.
You will make some progress quickly, but to fully reverse, it is going to take time.
The way that you look, feel and perform is reflective of your long term behaviours. You need to make a long term commitment to eating right, exercising, sleeping and managing stress if you want to optimize your health and the way you look.
We all want fast results, and it is possible to see changes quickly – there is nothing wrong with that. Getting fast results is not the same as only being committed for the short term. If you can implement a plan that gets you quick results and sustain it then go ahead.
Results in the short term can act as positive reference and motivation to keep going. There is nothing as encouraging as seeing results.
2. There’s no magic pill or routine
Most people would admit this when asked. You know that if your friend was asking for advice, you would tell them to put in the time, stick with it and do the work.
Yet, we still want to believe that we are different. We have an edge and that there is a program, supplement, food or routine out there that will give us fast and easy results for little effort.
The marketing of many supplements, and fad diets is responsible for this, where they promise the world when you take this magical (expensive) pill, powder or shake. The reality is these plans might give you some short term results, but it is not sustainable.
To really see changes, you must commit to doing the work over a long period of time.
Become a master of the basics and you will succeed. Do not fall into the trap of the latest fad diet/exercise/supplement, thinking that this is the key to achieving more.
Keep things simple, eat healthy, move and commit to it for an extended period of time if you want to see results.
It’s against human nature to do this – why would anyone want to work hard to achieve something slowly when we could get it quickly for little effort – this is what the scammy marketers prey on. In the real world, the tortoise always beats the hare. You just have to make that commitment and believe in the process.
3. If you don’t find a way to enjoy it, you will likely fail
It’s much easier to believe in the process and commit over the long term if you enjoy what you are doing.
Sure, you can force yourself to do things you don’t like for a period of time, especially when you are highly motivated, but you cannot do this forever.
Now, if you are not someone who currently enjoys working out or eating healthy, it can seem impossible to find a way to enjoy it. It’s just not who you are, right?
People change, and given time, you will change.
They key is to be looking for ways to enjoy it. This comes a lot from the way you talk to yourself. If you focus on how much you hate doing it, your mind will never open to the possibility of enjoying it.
If you focus on the foods you are not eating, you will simply miss them more. If you focus on all of the tasty foods you are eating, you will find that you enjoy your diet a lot more.
The same goes for exercise. Find something that you enjoy doing. If you don’t like the gym, try playing tennis or rock climbing. Whatever you think you might enjoy.
Think about it, nobody has to force you to do something that you like doing. You don’t need to build up willpower and drag yourself out of the door. You want to do it.
4. The thing you hate the most is what you most need to do
This is pretty much true across any area of your life. We all gravitate to our strengths and avoid our weaknesses. The human ego likes being good at things, and dislikes being bad at things. We will always feed our own bias and focus on the things we are already good at.
This might mean you’re a great endurance runner, but have no strength or muscle mass. The temptation is to keep running – stay in the field in which we excel – rather than be humbled in the weights room.
It might mean you love going to the gym, and enjoy working out, but hate watching what you eat. So you focus on training, doing more, working harder and completely neglect the diet.
In both of these cases, the thing that holds the biggest benefit is the thing you do not want to do.
Eeking out an extra 2% in what we are good at will not move the needle as much as improving from 0-20% on something we are bad at. Yet the latter is easier to achieve.
This doesn’t mean you have to live in misery doing things you hate 24/7. Just take a step back and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Make a commitment to work on tackling some of the weaknesses until they are no longer a weakness. Your overall results will skyrocket.
The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, but the sooner we start looking objectively at reality, and stop wishing or hoping for an alternative, the sooner we start changing our lives.
Hindsight is a beautifully cruel perspective, isn’t it?
Everything is so clear now, yet you know, back at the time; you wouldn’t have listened. Even if someone told you exactly what you think is true right now.
Well, maybe I’m just stubborn. If I tell you some things that I wish I had known, back when I started training about a decade ago, hopefully you might be able to take something from it.
Here’s 6 things I wish I had known when I first started training:
1. It doesn’t matter how much weight is on the bar – How much you have on the bar is perhaps strengthening your ego, but not necessarily doing much for your body. See, your muscles do not work in pounds on the bar, they work in force of contraction.
The harder a muscle contracts, the harder it is working, the more it will grow and become stronger. Problem is, when you load up too much weight on the bar, you start using other muscles to assist in lifting it, swinging it with momentum and doing reps as fast as possible. More weight gets lifted, but less tension is applied to the right
You get better results by using less weight, slowing your reps down, having more control and focusing on squeezing the desired muscle as hard as possible, for as long as possible. Leave the ego out of it and you will quickly have a body that shows how strong you are.
2. Consistency wins, always – Over 10 or so years of training I’ve seen many people come and go through the gyms. Often people would get in great shape and get strong much quicker than I would, but then they would burn out and stop training.
They’d come back 6 months later and while I’d been chipping away and surpassed them, they had regressed. Over time I always ended up in better shape and stronger than they did.
I’m at the best I have ever been right now and that is down to consistency. Instead of being frustrated at the slow grind, or jealous of other people who make quicker progress, I should just focus on turning up every day and putting in the work. It pays back in the end.
3. Understanding intensity – For years I use to go to the gym and move weights from A to B. When it got hard, I’d stop the set, rest and go again. I made steady progress, but honestly didn’t look or perform that great.
The thing I was lacking, that the inconsistent people from above often did have – which allowed them to make super quick progress – was intensity.
The ability to work harder. To push the limits and eek out an extra couple of reps. To get in the zone and lift a little bit heavier than you have before. They say the set only starts when it begins to hurt and this definitely rings true in my experience.
You have to dig in and push through the pain. In my early days I was looking for ways to make lifting easier. Now I know to find ways to make it harder, because that is when you are making progress.
4. Genetics matter, but not very much – Some people are natural athletes and they can just look at a weight and their muscles blow up. Unfortunately, that is not most of us, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to them.
The people who see quick success are often the people drawn to something, because everyone likes stuff they’re good at. You end up surrounded by these guys who are progressing lightning fast and you project that everyone in great shape is like that.
Truth is, the majority of these people won’t stay consistent and the experienced guys are probably like you – having to grind for every small gain. In gym life, the turtle almost always wins the race.
5. I’m a beginner! – When I started out I wanted to do all of these advanced programs and techniques because that’s what the pro’s do and recommend. The more complex, more advanced something is, the better it must work – I thought.
It took a while for me to get my head around the fact that as a beginner, pretty much anything that you do will work. With that said, you should keep it simple and do what brings the most benefit for least complexity.
This phase of everything working won’t last long and you need somewhere to progress to, when it starts to slow down. If you’re already doing all of the advanced techniques you’ve heard about on the internet, what do you do next?
6. Great structures are built on strong foundations – This is such an important thing to learn. You must become strong and proficient in the basics. You must build your foundations. You must focus your effort on the supporting muscles.
Benching big weights and flexing in the mirror might have sex-appeal, but a big bench depends on strong lats and a great physique is built back to front.
If you spend all of your time working on the muscles that you can’t see in the mirror, doing pull ups, rows, deadlifts and glute bridges – you will have a killer physique and be strong as an ox.
If you spend all of your time doing bench and biceps you will have scrawny shoulders, terrible posture and no legs. You’ll be pretty weak and quickly become injured.
Foundations support everything else. Spend more time training your back and legs and you will have a much better physique, while being much stronger and more functional. Win, win, win!
I actually did get things right pretty quickly and that is one of the reasons I have been able to remain consistent for all of these years. Hopefully there’s a point or two here that you can take in to your own training and improve your results.
There are a lot of ways to recover post-workout, but what really does the trick? It occurred to us that going to the soldiers in the trenches, the people who workout and recover like it’s their job (because it IS their job) might be a great way to find out what really works.
We asked 17 top trainers, coaches, PhDs, and fitness pros what they consider the most important food or nutrient for muscle recovery and why. And some great responses came back as well as a common theme that definitely emerged: Protein, carbs, and water. Protein and carbs might seem obvious, but how many of us really do the work of supplying our muscles with some quality goods post-workout? You’ve worked the muscle, go the extra mile and get some great nutrients in there to recover faster.
And water is so completely obvious that a lot of people might not actually hydrate adequately. You lose a ton of water during even a short workout, and swigging a Gatorade isn’t going to replenish what you’ve lost. It’s possible to lose 1 liter of water per hour of intense exercise. You have to replace that, no questions asked.
So without further ado, here are the fitness pros in their own words answering the question “What do you consider the most important food or nutrient for muscle recovery and why?”
(And a huge thanks to all who responded!)
Nate Miyaki – @NateMiyaki
“The diet as a whole should be considered for optimal recovery, but protein first to initiate muscular repair.”
Scott Wrigley, @ScottWrigleyFit
“BOTH carbs & proteins are important. You need carbs to replenish glycogen & proteins to repair & build. I tell my clients to go for something quick & easy to break down such as @GotChocoMilk both with carbs & protein #fittip.”
Jaime Smith, @jaimesmithtv
“2 foods. In broad terms, protein with a carb. Protein for tissue repair & carb for energy & better protein absorption.”
G.A. Page, @fit2balive_a
“Complete protein sources, protein syntesizes structural hormones important for growth, recovery, strength, nutrient absorbtion.”
James Padley, @padley_james
“Fish – it has the ideal amount of amino acids and has the good carbs…”
Barbara Anderson, @FitnessbyBarb
“Alot goes into muscle recovery. I’ll go with the ingestion of essential amino acids from quality protein.”
A.J. JACKSON, @ajcelebtrainer
“Consuming protein within 30 minutes after a resistance training workout is crucial for optimum muscle recovery.”
Fred Hoffman, @FredHoffmanFit
“I don’t consider any one food or nutrient the most important… but I do always recommend WATER!!”
Mardy King – @MardyKing1
“I would say carbs but I like 60 grams of carbs with 30 gams of protein after working out.”
Mike Roussell, PhD – @mikeroussell
“Total calories and protein.”
Fitastic – @FeelFitastic
“…(post-workout) it’s going to be lean cuts of protein. Protein is what promotes lean muscle tissue growth. Along with promoting protein synthesis, we would suggest lean cuts of protein from chicken, turkey, to whey protein powders that are not filled with tons of fillers and artificial flavors to get in the way of muscle recovery.”
Jeff Woods, @jeffwoodsfit
“Intense training depletes glycogen. Adapt a whole food nutrient dense strategy. Supplements are over rated! 4:1 carb/protein recovery.”
Mara – @MaraFit13
“It would have to be the egg. Cheap, sold everywhere and can be done multiple ways.”
Victor Prisk, M.D. – @victorprisk
“…LEUCINE. make sure you’re getting enough leucine with each meal.”
Eric Fleishman – @ErictheTrainer
“Protein — It’s the building block of muscle. Steak, eggs, chicken, and fish are excellent sources.”
Steve Jordan – @TrainerToStars
“Protein, h2o and rest. Proteins are the building blocks to muscle growth, h2o is essential for recovery and rest for repair.”
Chris Gorres – @TrainerGorres
“Sometimes people forget the obvious and most important nutrient.. WATER. Makes up 70% of muscle.”
So there ya go! Lots of ideas to work with to get you recovered faster and working out again sooner. Huge thanks to all these pros for sharing their input!